Thursday’s Collaborative Planning Team meeting was the last scheduled one for 2010. The following are a few items from the agenda.
First up, a fox on the run story (the same one The Sheet and the LA Times reported on a few weeks ago but with a first hand take) … Humboldt-Toiyabe Forest District Ranger Mike Crawley said he and his crew made an interesting discovery while working on the snowmobile crossing point between the Pacific Crest Trail and Bridgeport Recreation Area: a rare sighting of a Sierra Nevada Red Fox … and not just one, either. Surveillance cameras used for documentation purposes appear to have captured images of what park officials think are as many as three of the foxes. Crawley said it’s not clear at this point what effect, if any, the foxes will have on the work on the crossing.
Meanwhile, the news could be better for Caltrans, which reported that it’s still running without a budget, thanks to the state, which is also still running without a budget. Caltrans reps said the governor has ordered no hiring, promotions or pay raises, though they are still hoping to be able to bring on a certain amount of seasonal staff for the winter. In the short term, however, the cleaning and maintenance contract for the agency’s rest areas ran out Thursday. With nothing coming in behind it due to the budget situation, Caltrans may soon be forced to close its rest areas. This comes on the heels of recently opening its Crestview rest area following a protracted repair and renovation period, only to find the agency may have to close it again sooner than expected.
On the brighter side, Caltrans completed roadwork going through the Manzanar Historic Site part of U.S. 395. If you notice a slight jog, that’s due to a correction to the road that originally, and accidentally, cut right across part of Manzanar’s land. Caltrans is in the process of rehabilitating both ends of the property and returning it to Manzanar for use as additional parking and frontage road space. Locally, in Mammoth Lakes, Caltrans canceled the overlay of town roads due to an asphalt mix issue. The roads will be restriped for the winter and overlaying will be rescheduled for 2011 when the weather clears.
At the Marine Corp’s Mountain Warfare Training Center in north Mono County, reports are that, while the U.S. still has 50,000 or so troops in Iraq, the Marines are all but entirely out. Rian Gamble of the MWTC said less than 100 Marines are still in the country, mostly training local police forces. Former MWTC Commander Colonel Cooling, who was recently assigned to logistics duty in Afghanistan, is at the Marine base in Quantico, Va., preparing to deploy.
No further large-scale operations are planned for the base until at least after November, while the Marines prepare the facility for the 2011 training schedule. That includes a likely visit by some Osprey … not the bird, the helicopter, which will make an appearance sometime in late spring or early summer to study, among other goals, the environmental impact of take-offs and landings, and how dust blow-back and other anomalies may affect nearby Hwy 108.
Yosemite National Park’s Chief Public Outreach Officer Donna Sisson said that summer visitation in the park was very brisk, up approximately 130,000 people. With roughly 1.3 million visitors between July and August alone, Yosemite is well on track to hit 4 million total visitors by the time it closes for the winter, Sisson said. That figure puts it just shy of the park record, which still stands at 4.2 million.
Finally, Mammoth Lakes Town Council member John Eastman wasn’t able to attend the meeting. It seems he does have a good reason, however; Eastman is reportedly swinging a hammer in Nepal as part of a Habitat For Humanities build there. Fellow Council member Jo Bacon ably filled in for him.